The challenge of every team is to build a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another, because the question is usually not how well each person performs, but how well they work together.
— Vince Lombardi
Each member of a team has an important role, including the leader. When businesses or projects fail it is easy to blame the team, however, as a leader, you are held more responsible. Progress and strong teams follow those that have mastered being a leader. While the term “born leader” is frequently thrown around to describe accomplished leaders, it does take work to lead a strong team. If good leaders grew on trees there would be a lot more seemingly effortlessly successful teams in the world. The following are Dale Carnegie’s leadership tips to leading a strong team are:
- Encourage your team to grow by trusting them with new responsibilities and continuing to push them and establish continuous improvement and development.
- Remember: teams are only as strong as their weakest link. The team depends on each of its members to complete their tasks. Leaders must spot team members who are not helping the team succeed and fix all repair links.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respect goes a long way when it comes to business. While it is important that leaders are strong, stern and demand respect, it is equally important that they do not belittle their team members. Everyone is equally as important to the team’s success and should be treated that way. Make it a point to always explain the reasoning behind decisions and changes to ensure they feel respected and equal in all processes.
- Leaders should not dictators: Some people believe that in order to be a leader you have to instill fear into your team. This could not be any further from the truth. Teams should be extremely democratic. Every team member should have a voice. Each member of the team has a right to question the process, add input, and evaluate the team’s progress. Listening to your team’s needs. Remember: everyone wants to be heard and valued.
- With listening comes learning team members strengths, weaknesses and likes. Align team members with what they enjoy doing and excel at to take teams to higher levels of performance. In a strong team, the leader knows how to capitalize on each member’s individual strengths. By allowing people to do projects they are passionate about you are sure to get more positive results. To ensure you are capitalizing on individual strengths, team leadership skills must include:
- Creating a strategically efficient team by combining different strengths within your team. Think of yourself as a football coach or recruiter. A coach would never build an entire team with just quarterbacks. You must seek out talented people who excel at various roles. They also need coaching or direction. Even the most talented individuals can fail at a project without the proper instruction and guidance.
- Focusing on strengths, not weaknesses: It is easy to forget what got someone placed on your team in the first place. If an individual did not possess special strengths they would not be on your team, so remember to appreciate every member. By recognizing individuals’ accomplishments and strengths your team members will feel valued and will work to maintain their value.
Check back soon for How to Lead a Strong Team Part II to find more tips to help you become a better leader.